Every single day we are presented with opportunities. Taking them or not is simply a matter of choice. Sunday morning at 8 am I made myself get out of bed for the obligatory morning dog walk, or dog crawl as the neighbors call it. Not having a yard is somewhat of a challenge as our dogs’ ability to relieve themselves now falls onto our shoulders. I put on their harnesses, walked outside, and was immediately greeted by my neighbors, the Wong’s. They live around the corner, have 4 dogs themselves, and are very friendly. Just like in the U.S., dogs seem to help you meet people. After chatting for a moment about my family’s newly acquired tea and coffee habit, they asked if the family was awake yet and invited us to a ‘real’ local coffee shop in a nearby town. I wasn’t sure if I could coax the family out of bed so early, but I decided it would be a good opportunity to get to know our neighbors and see a less posh side of the area. In about 20 minutes, they were waiting outside of our house ready to go. We followed them for 10 minutes to the oldest town in the area called Galang Patah. The coffee shop we stopped at has been there since 1945 and was literally an open air space filled with plastic chairs and tables.
There was zero air-con, but there was free Wi-Fi. We sat there for about 3 hours drinking amazing iced coffee and eating round after round of food. We came to find out later that they are serious foodies and were more than happy to share such an important part of their culture. We had poached eggs with soy sauce and white pepper, British toast with coconut ‘jelly’, a spicy chicken rice and peanut dish wrapped in banana leaves, wonton soup, fried wonton, barley water, and a couple of different noodle dishes (which were ordered from a different shop across the street and delivered by the cook). It was an absolutely amazing experience, not only because the food was authentic, delicious, and insanely inexpensive, but also because the company was fascinating. One man we sat with was a retired lawyer and high court judge from Singapore, and then our neighbor turned out to be a very well known celebrity photographer from Singapore. It was inspiring to see the girls interact with such interesting people and be inspired by their stories… and all because I agreed to push the family out of bed early for some coffee.
Today we decided to try out Desaru Beach, an easy hour drive from our house. We arrived around 1pm and followed the signs that said ‘public beach’. As we paid the dollar to enter at the guard gate, we were immediately greeted by monkeys that seemed to be eyeing our cell phones.
We quickly rolled up the windows and drove off to park. Being a Tuesday afternoon, we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves. There were a few surfers and one family, but other than that we were all alone. We swam, played soccer, and soaked up a little sun. This is by no means the most beautiful beach in Malaysia, but it was not too shabby at all. As we left, we learned from the guard that dogs are allowed, so I am sure we will be back in a few days.
On our way home we pulled off of the road to try our luck at a little café. It turned out to be pretty delicious and as we were leaving two tiny kittens emerged from somewhere in the back. The girls went gaga over those kitties and as we were leaving I heard them say it was the highlight of their day. What???? They insisted that the beach was amazing, yes, but these were kittens. Never underestimate the power of cute furry creatures, I suppose.